Millennium Post

Congress and governance deficit

Amidst the sagging growth in the economy, BJP-ruled states performed much better than Congress ruled states. All the states, which are currently under BJP governance, achieved much higher growth in GDP than the national average growth of five per cent. For example, in 2012-2013, the BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh clocked the second highest growth in GDP at 10.02 per cent, after Bihar (ruled by JD). It was followed by Chhattisgarh with 8.57 per cent growth and Goa by 7.6 per cent in GDP. In 2011-2012, Gujarat pitched a growth by 8.53 per cent. Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat witnessed exponential growth by of over 8-9 per cent during the past three years. In 2012-2013, no Congressed-ruled state achieved GDP growth higher than seven per cent.

Paradoxically, while the BJP is a party of small traders and has only one time experience in ruling the government at the national level, it engineered the growth either on agriculture or industry base planks. Madhya Pradesh churned the growth through intensifying agricultural growth and Gujarat spurred the growth through industry base investment.

In 2012-2013, Madhya Pradesh witnessed 13.3 per cent growth in agriculture. Agriculture, with 21.5 per cent share in GDP, has become the engine for state GDP growth. It achieved 9.04 per cent growth in agriculture during the 11th Five Year Plan period against the national average of 2.5 per cent growth in agriculture.

In converse, Gujarat witnessed industry playing lead role in the development of state economy. The secondary sector, which represents manufacturing and processing, accounts for 41 per cent share in state GDP, spurred at 16.8 per cent a year in between 2004-2005 to 2011-2012 – much above the national average of 8-9 per cent. One fifth of the outstanding investment relates to manufacturing in the state. Gujarat is the chemical hub of India. It contributes 25 per cent to the country’s export. It is the second biggest state in receiving FDI in the country.

What led BJP to shine the growth in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, despite the country reeled under slump? The prime factor which attributed to the success of BJP in these two states was the political supremacy and the charismatic leaderships of the chief ministers. In both states, BJP held absolute majority in the last two cycles of state elections. Incumbency failed to shadow the political dominance of BJP in the states.

The political supremacy, which concurrently was bestowed with political power, helped BJP to strike the gap between commitment mandated in the election manifestos and percolating them into implementation. The windfall of absolute majority helped BJP to deliver the much needed governance to the people, instead of wading through political muddy waters, which a coalition government has to counter on every step of governance. In Gujarat, Chief Minister Narendra Modi could exert on squeezing the size of the government, as he believed in the concept of ‘minimum government, maximum governance’. He could focus on industry base growth despite two-third of people in Gujarat live on agriculture for their livelihood. In Madhya Pradesh, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan could derive the growth through intensifying agriculture as the base for growth since the State is bereft of the factors which are boon to industrial development. The State is landlocked area and a larger part of it are covered by forests. Any landlocked area or the area covered by forests are not attractive for the private investors.

Had BJP tied up in coalition with other parties to form the government, BJP would have to face similar hardships to deliver good governance, which Aam Aadmi Party countered in Delhi. Aam Aadmi Party failed to sustain in Delhi assembly despite providing the much needed essential economic benefits to the poor and Aam Junta, after being blocked by Congress – the coalition partner of AAP. It is a paradox that Congress in Haryana and Maharashtra subjugated to AAP mantra by reducing electricity tariff for the poor and aam junta.

But, BJP failed to establish a strong footage in Karnataka, despite being the single largest party in 2008 election. BJP garnered 110 seats in Karnataka in 2008 election. It was short of three MLAs from absolute majority. Probably, this was one of the reasons which stirred up inner-conflict in the party, letting Yeddyurappa to quit the party. This helped Congress to regain power in Karnataka.  
Karnataka is an unique State in terms of Indian regional politics. It is unimaginable that somebody representing any north Indian party could dream of becoming chief minister of any southern state. Karnataka is the most open state in southern India where linguistic identity is not always the mainstay in the political leadership. A number of native Telugu politicians become ministers in Karnataka. This leveraged BJP to foray in Karnataka and it became the first state in southern India to accept Hindi-belt political party.

Another factor which let the BJP to rise in the charismatic leadership is that BJP, unlike Congress, is not high command driven party. Charisma of BJP leaders emanate from electorates’ mandates and not from the BJP headquarter, unlike 10 Janpath. Had BJP leaders fell prey to high command blessing, Narendra Modi would have had little chances to be projected as prime minister by BJP.  
The curse of high command driven political leadership was felt with the loss of Congress in Rajasthan.

Various opinion polls project BJP to be the single largest party in 2014 election. Given the fact that it will be hard to have absolute majority and the country will witness hung government, can BJP replicate the state model of growth at the Centre?

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